Night Gallery – The Diary (S2E8)

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One of the less hideous NG paintings.

For some unknown reason, the Season 1 box set includes 3 episodes from later seasons.  Why would this be?

Shame?  Because they hooked rubes like me into buying the “Complete First Season” box set without stating on the box that it was only 6 episodes? Unlikely.

Teaser?  Because they wanted to demonstrate that the show got better in later seasons inducing people to buy the future box sets?  Well, The Diary was good but the rest of the episode — three brief sketches — only range from OK to God-awful.

Incompetence?  Seems like a stretch.  Printing the episode order wrong inside the box is one thing, but I can’t imagine they just screwed up that badly.  Although, there is also a sleeve for a booklet in the box set which mocks me in its empytude.

Patty Duke is a TV gossip columnist dishing dirt on has-been movie star Carrie Crane (played by has-been [1] movie star Virgina Mayo).  Patty is expressing her disgust at Crane for being busted last night for drunk and disorderly conduct on Sunset Strip.  This is back in the day when such a thing was not actually considered a publicity coup.  She is very dismissive of the aging Crane and reminds her that she is an “old broad,” not an “ingenue on the rise.”

We see this scene on the portable TV of Duke’s condo doorman.  He is shocked to see the real Carrie Crane walk up to his desk . . . mostly shocked that she is walking in a straight line.  She asks to go up to see Duke. She charms him and crashes Duke’s New Year’s Eve party.  Duke is no more civil in person. She berates Crane and threatens to have the doorman fired for letting her in the building.

ngdiary03Crane is far classier, having brought Duke a gift — well, a gift that will tear apart the fabric of her realty, but still a gift.  Duke calls her a “grandmother” and boots her out. Duke does open the gift after she leaves, though, perhaps intending to re-gift it.  It is a diary with January 1st already filled in in Duke’s handwriting — it describes the suicide of Crane.

Duke hears screams and sees from the balcony that Crane has been run over and killed. OK, that one’s a gimmee — it’s not tough to predict your own suicide, Nostradamus.  Although why walk down all those stairs when there is a balcony right there.  Maybe that lack of flair for the dramatic is why she is a has-been.

The January 2nd entry automatically writes itself — OK, that is starting to get spooky.  It predicts Duke’s vacation plans and her phone being broken — and this is one of the old AT&T-issued phones that could withstand an atomic blast.  The diary is 2 for 2.

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BTW, mother of Samwise Gamgee.

She describes the diary to her $35 / hour shrink who has plausible explanations for the diary’s predictions.  In his office, she notices the entry for January 3rd — it describes in her handwriting the death of her boyfriend.  But in such a way that she could not cause, or have caused it, or will have caused it.

She finds that the January 4th page is blank.  In the entry on the 3rd she had wondered — well, her handwriting wondered — how she can live with herself after the lives being lost due to her cruelty.  She takes the blank next page as evidence of her suicide.

She has herself locked in a sanitarium and insists that she be given no sharp instruments in order to survive the day.  Natch, there is a twist that I’m not sure makes sense.  But it does press enough buttons — at least on me — to make me squirm a little and still be thinking about it.  Your mileage may vary.

Post-Post:

  • Twilight Zone Legacy:  David Wayne was in Escape Clause.
  • The nurse in the sanitarium is Lindsey Wagner in one of her first roles.  For some reason, she just seems amazing in this nothing of a role — far better than Diane Keaton in Room with a View.
  • Also included in the episode: The Big Surprise — well executed and written by TZ master Richard Matheson, but really no meat there.  A Matter of Semantics — very short one-note sketch, interesting only if you want to see the guy who played the Joker on TV against Adam West’s Batman.  Professor Peabody’s Last Lecture — unbearably awful in execution and a dreadful punchline despite the presence of the usually great Carl Reiner.
  • [1] Has-been is pretty harsh . . . I feel just terrible.

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